Battery Performance and Etiquette

Tech Tips
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How much do you know about your cell phone’s battery? If you’re like many people, you know it works but that’s about it.

 

Most cell phones use a Lithium-Ion battery, these are an improvement over the Nickel-Cadmium batteries of the past, Ni-Cad are still a good choice for remote-control cars, boats, and airplanes. Lithium-ion batteries are smaller, lighter and safer than their predecessors. The main difference between Li-ion and Ni-Cad are the chemicals used for the negative and positive terminals. This matters because cadmium is a toxic metal that is treated as hazardous waste and requires special disposal.

 

The differences in the older Ni-Cad and the Li-ion are actually the reason behind two of the biggest misconceptions about battery care.

 

You can overcharge your battery

Lithium-Ion batteries stop charging once full-charge is reached, so you don’t need to worry about “overcharging” the battery. However, leaving a phone plugged in for an extended time can cause the battery to heat up and this is one of the things that does drain battery life.

 

You have to trick your phone to keep from draining the battery

The second myth is “Draining”. Have you ever been told you needed to trick your battery’s memory? This idea claims that in order for your phone to remember how much charge it is capable of holding it is better to drain your battery completely and then charge it to 100%. The theory is that this would refresh its memory as to what full battery capacity is. Unfortunately, this is a myth. It was slightly true with Ni-Cad batteries, but with Li-ion batteries it’s not. In fact, it will hurt your battery long-term. It is better to “top off” your battery and try to keep it from being completely depleted.

 

Another important note, if you aren’t going to be using your device for an extended time, don’t leave it without a charge. This can damage the battery. It is better to have a partial charge when stored, even if the device is powered down.

 

If you’d like to get the most out of your battery, try some of these tips:

Fully charge your battery before you first use it. It can be tempting to charge it enough to use it and then give it a full charge later, but for optimal life let a lithium-ion battery charge for 5-6 hours before unplugging it the first time.

 

Although it is tempting to use your phone while it is charging, it is actually better to wait until fully charged and disconnected from the charger to use it. Doing this will  keep your battery cooler and will charge faster when not in use.

 

Adjust your settings so that you use less battery during regular use. You can do this by dimming the screen, setting a shorter timeout time, and keeping your phone cool. Protecting your phone from the heat is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prolong your battery. Don’t leave your phone in a hot car, or next to an overheated computer, also keeping it in your pocket, next to your body all the time can drain the battery. However, don’t go overboard to keep your phone cool. Sticking it in the freezer, for example, is too cold and the moisture and temperature can damage it.

 

Though fun, animated backgrounds will drain your battery faster and white backgrounds drain battery faster than darker. The website http://www.blackl.com/black-google.php will let you run a google search with a black background, thus extending battery life.

 

If you aren’t using something, turn it off. This sounds obvious, but if you aren’t using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, or 4G (LTE) it’s better to keep them off. Are you at home, turn off data and connect with your Wi-Fi. Are you out but not using your data? Turn it off. Activate airplane mode when you have no signal. Do you have a work phone you only use during business hours? Turn it off when you clock out. Do you sleep like the dead and wouldn’t hear your phone even if it rang in the middle of the night? Turn it off. Some of us use our phones as an alarm, but you can save battery power, and not have to worry about someone pocket dialing you in the middle of the night by turning it off and investing in a cheap alarm clock.

Some of the biggest battery hogs are games and videos. Is a 5” screen really the best way to watch the latest episode of The Walking Dead? Being mindful of your battery life while watching videos will keep you out of an emergency situation.

 

Speaking of (un)dead, do you know your battery vampires? Some apps drain your battery of life and they may be ones you don’t even use! For an Android device, go to Settings> Battery, this will show you which apps are using the most of your battery, then you can turn them off if you’re not using them. For iOS, depending on your version, go to Settings> General> Usage> Battery Usage, or simply Settings then Battery.

 

How often does your phone grab your email, weather, or Facebook updates? How often do you access this information? If your phone is updating every ten minutes but you only access them once a day, consider changing this setting.

 

For iOS, go to the Notification Centre and change the Activation Style to “none”. 

 

For Android, go to Settings, then Accounts, then turn Sync off for each account by unchecking Sync.

 

If you aren’t able to make some of these changes or find that no matter what you do you just use a lot of battery, you can always invest in a spare battery or a battery extender.  Both of these will let you continue using your phone after it would have otherwise died.

 

Remember, not all tips are applicable to everyone, but using some of them will make it easy to get the most of your battery’s life!

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